Real Talk: Antisocial: Online Extremists, Techno-Utopians, and the Hijacking of the American Convers
"Trenchant and intelligent." --The New York Times A New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice From a rising star at The New Yorker, a deeply immersive chronicle of how the optimistic entrepreneurs of Silicon Valley set out to create a free and democratic internet--and how the cynical propagandists of the alt-right exploited that freedom to propel the extreme into the mainstream.
This is the story
For several years, Andrew Marantz, a New Yorker staff writer, has been embedded in two worlds. The first is the world of social-media entrepreneurs, who, acting out of naïvete and reckless ambition, upended all traditional means of receiving and transmitting information.
The second is the world of the people he calls "the gate crashers"--the conspiracists, white supremacists, and nihilist trolls who have become experts at using social media to advance their corrosive agenda. Antisocial ranges broadly--from the first mass-printed books to the trending hashtags of the present; from secret gatherings of neo-Fascists to the White House press briefing room--and traces how the unthinkable becomes thinkable, and then how it becomes reality.
Combining the keen narrative detail of Bill Buford's Among the Thugs and the sweep of George Packer's The Unwinding, Antisocial reveals how the boundaries between technology, media, and politics have been erased, resulting in a deeply broken informational landscape--the landscape in which we all now live. Marantz shows how alienated young people are led down the rabbit hole of online radicalization, and how fringe ideas spread--from anonymous corners of social media to cable TV to the President's Twitter feed.
Marantz also sits with the creators of social media as they start to reckon with the forces they've unleashed. Will they be able to solve the communication crisis they helped bring about, or are their interventions too little too late?
Reviews and What Readers Say
“Antisocial is . . . Marantz’s searching attempt to understand people he describes as truly deplorable without letting his moral compass get wrecked. . . . [Antisocial] is trenchant and intelligent; wry but not glib; humane but never indulgent." —Jennifer Szalai, The New York Times “Imagine a world bereft of gates and uncrossable lines, with no discernable rules. That’s the Hadean landscape that has been painted expertly, in dark hues, by Andrew Marantz in his book Antisocial.” —Kara Swisher, The New York Times Book Review “By turns amusing and alarming. . . . Like an old Hunter S. Thompson report from the campaign trail, Antisocial is an entertaining read about a distressing subject.” —San Francisco Chronicle “Antisocial is an engrossing work of literary journalism. . . . A genuine first of its kind: ambitious, attuned to the novel features of social media, and written with enough detail and perspective to survey the subtle grain of a multifaceted movement. . . . Marantz is a master of this beat, and he excels at unwinding the subtle ironies, personal tics, and moments of vulnerability that reveal his subjects. . . . Antisocial is an engaging, relentlessly detailed, and observant study of the characters and personal motivations at play in the far right’s information pipeline.” —The Nation
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JAndrew Marantz is a staff writer at The New Yorker, where he has worked since 2011. His work has also appeared in Harper's, New York, Mother Jones, the New York Times, and many other publications. A contributor to Radiolab and The New Yorker Radio Hour, he has spoken at TED and has been interviewed on CNN, MSNBC, NPR, and many other outlets.